Hastings Borough Council leads county effort to keep rough sleepers off the streets as winter approaches
Hastings Borough Council is the lead partner amongst councils in East Sussex in a joint bid for money from the government's Next Steps Accommodation Project, to minimise the number of rough sleepers returning to the streets.
The Next Steps Accommodation Programme was announced by government during lockdown. It is made up of revenue funding for short term measures to reduce the number of former rough sleepers, accommodated during the lockdown, returning to the streets after lockdown eased and capital funding to increase the amount of accommodation for former rough sleepers.
The government has confirmed that East Sussex has been awarded £964,300 from the revenue fund. The outcome of our capital fund bid is awaited. The schemes run until the end of March 2021.
At last night's Cabinet meeting the decision was made to approve the mobilisation of the Next Steps Accommodation Programme.
Cllr Andy Batsford, lead councillor for Housing and Homelessness, said,
"The council responded zealously to the government's 'Everyone In' instruction at the beginning of lockdown to get rough sleepers off the streets. As a result, there are higher numbers in temporary accommodation and accessing the support the council provides than was planned for. This bid, though it doesn't cover the increased costs due to COVID-19, will go some way to assist us to continue to fund these placements and support, so the money is welcome.
"As a council we place huge importance on doing what we can to ensure everyone has a safe place to stay and have their needs met. This bid was due to the nimble efforts of officers and their hard work and determination to do all they can for those in our town who really need our help and support. With the council's finances as they are, we must and will continue to make the most of any and all opportunities for funding in this and many other areas.
"Homelessness continues to be a challenge in Hastings and around the country. There are currently 39 former rough sleepers in temporary accommodation in the town with around 15 people still rough sleeping. Our successful bid for revenue funding will allow the council to continue to provide temporary accommodation and increase the support we offer to help people to find a longer-term home. We cannot open night shelters over winter due to Covid-19, so this money will also help us provide temporary accommodation for rough sleepers over these hard months.
"We are working with colleagues from Public Health and the Clinical Commissioning Group to improve the health, mental health and substance dependency support provided to rough sleepers through the Rough Sleeping Initiative. We're also continuing to work closely with partners in the community and voluntary sector.
"Longer term, we have bid to create 30 new 'Housing First' units across East Sussex, 10 of which will be in Hastings. Housing First is an internationally recognised method of providing accommodation with a high level of ongoing support."